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Black ballet superstar Misty Copeland on Swan Lake and racial prejudice

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SHE is one of ballet’s unlikeliest stars, an accidental prodigy who rose to a glittering stage career from a life of food stamps, custody battles and grubby motel rooms as one of six children to a battling single mother. ...
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How to be Anti-Racist in the Arts

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As far as I know, it’s a first of its kind in Australia," Lena Nahlous, executive director of Diversity Arts Australia, says of their new Creative Equity Toolkit.
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Race to the Top of the Class

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The Asian tiger parent phenomena is about more than just culture

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Fear of being locked out from opportunity lies behind the ‘pushy’ Asian mum cliché – not some kind of innate cultural difference.
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We Are Ticking Time Bombs': Inside Australia's Meth Crisis

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On a warm Thursday evening, at a community center in the pretty coastal town of Yeppoon, central Queensland, fifteen women around a table listen intently to another....
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The powerful woman no longer letting shame silence her

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"I sensed very early on in Australia that they want an inspiring refugee story, to hear your journey but not the true journey."
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The death row inmates who turn to art: ‘We should be willing to listen to what they have to say'

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Tyrone Chalmers started drawing at age eight. “Art shadows me everywhere I go in life… my best work comes from within my dreams.”
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Art of the sublime

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In Japan, creativity seeps into everything outside the traditional frame of canvas and festival.

t’s still early on a warm night in Kana­zawa, but things are already getting a little rowdy at the next table...
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Art of the Sublime Part 2
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Wounded Healers

Their calling is to save lives. So why is the suicide rate among doctors so high?

It’s a late Friday evening in New York and Dr Michael Myers is finishing up the paperwork for his last patient as he takes my call from Sydney. ...
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Australia Struggles to Make Sense of Its Role in the New Zealand Massacre

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Flags flew at half-mast against a grey sky over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Saturday, as Australia tried to make sense of what just happened on the other side of the Tasman Sea...
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Get Lost, Mate

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Jingoistic young whites are turning the Australian flag into a symbol of exclusion

It was on one of those blue-sky, Sydney summer afternoons early last year when I first realized something had gone awry with the Australian flag. ...
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Two blokes walked on to a stage

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At the time when Godot was first done, it liberated something for anybody writing plays ...
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Arts funding debate ponders colour of money from corporate sponsors

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EARLY last month, London’s British Museum opened a new exhibitio, Vikings: Life and Legend, in the biggest show of its kind in 30 years. More than 50,000 visitors have so far flocked to the museum’s new Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery to view items ranging from fighting axes, amulets and dragon figureheads, to skeletons, old coins and an imposing 37m-long Viking timber warship. ...
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Sydney Mardi Gras: How a violent first march spurred change

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On Saturday, Sydney's famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras marks its 40th anniversary - and its first celebration since Australia legalised same-sex marriage. Much has changed since violence marred the first parade.
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Modern-day Medicis: behind the private art museum boom

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Deep in the headquarters of fashion giant Louis Vuitton on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, Jean-Paul Claverie cuts a dapper picture of old-school elegance. He takes my hand and offers me a seat ...
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NGV’s Hermitage exhibition displays Catherine the Great’s treasures

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‘She would have seen this very same view when she was standing here.” Under the blind gaze of a trio of alabaster statues guarding the Jordan staircase in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Mikhail Dedinkin points across a sea of heads to the broad, silvery Neva River framed like an exquisite still-life by a nearby window. ..
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George Pell: The backlash to cardinal's sexual abuse conviction

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Cardinal George Pell is awaiting sentencing for sexually abusing two boys in 1996. The verdict, which he is appealing against, has stunned and divided Australia in the past week.

It has sparked strong reactions from the cardinal's most prominent supporters, some of whom have cast doubt on his conviction in a wider attack on Australia's legal system...
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Whistler’s Mother heads to NGV Melbourne from Orsay in Paris

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The Whistlers smile secretly in their corner ... that is all part of the subtle malice with which they win you.’ British poet and editor Arthur Symons, Studies in Seven Arts, 1906 ...
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Lou Reed
A walk on the wild side

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In a rare sunny mood, Lou Reed talks about rap, his cache of weapons and performing his masterpiece - also branded 'the most depressing album ever' - in Sydney.

Richard Abowitz, writing for Gadfly online, once called Lou Reed "the most mean-spirited troll in the music industry" ...
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Dance’s dark side under scrutiny

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ON a quiet public holiday afternoon in Chiswick, in Sydney’s inner west, shop No 15-17, the headquarters of dance school The Next Step Performing Arts, presents a shuttered facade to the empty street. ...
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A Spanner in the Works

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The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia’s first all-girl garage by Loretta Smith
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Maids of Dishonour

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Cate Blanchett and Elizabeth Debicki are eating lunch in a private room overlooking a bright blue slice of Sydney's Walsh Bay. ...
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Bjork’s Vivid Sydney show at Carriageworks a homage to pop provocateur

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A pixie voice tiptoes down the line — breathless, singsong, studded with r’s rolled so extravagantly they stretch words into strange and ­baroque shapes. ...
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Patti Smith
From punk poet to cover girl

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At 60, Patti Smith has released an album of cover songs. Sharon Verghis finds out why.

YOU hear the voice, and instantly you're snared. ...
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Geoffrey Rush tackles King Lear with Sydney Theatre Company

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Geoffrey Rush mimes cracking open and swallowing a raw egg. His Adam's apple bobs up and down, his long neck undulates. ...
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Triumph of the Will

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There was no degree of separation between work and family on Will Smith's latest film. He talks to Sharon Verghis about co-starring with his son, Jaden.

Will Smith is standing in front of me with a Rubik's Cube, his face in deep pleats of concentration as he nimbly fingers its brightly coloured surfaces. ...
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Black Saturday: The bushfire disaster that shook Australia

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Ten years ago, Australia experienced its worst-ever bushfire disaster when 173 people died across the state of Victoria. Immediately branded "one of the darkest days in Australia's peacetime history", Black Saturday has left a profound legacy. Sharon Verghis reports.

"It was like the gates of hell. There is no other way to describe it."
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Gloria Steinem talks feminism, Donald Trump and life on the road

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At the stroke of noon, Sydney time, the phone rings. Gloria Steinem’s voice curls down the line, warm and resonant and a little hesitant: “Hel-lo?” You’re very punctual, I tell her, and there’s a small, puzzled laugh: why wouldn’t she be? ..
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Australia Bewildered by Malcolm Turnbull's Apparent Rift with Donald Trump

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“Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”...
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Like Meghan Markle, I know what it's like to be 'ethnically ambiguous'

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Meghan Markle is an actress, model – and next to marry into the Royal family, if we are reading the tea leaves right following Markle's decision to close down her popular blog The Tig last week....
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The evolution of Australia Day controversy

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Australia's national day of celebration has drawn much criticism recently from those who say it causes unfair hurt to indigenous people.

More than most other nations, perhaps, Australia has a relaxed relationship to its national day. ...
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Why we can't get enough of the Handmaid's Tale

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Margaret Atwood and her crimson handmaids are having a big moment in popular culture and politics.

Margaret Atwood will be 80 in 2019. In an interview on social news website Reddit, she described herself as in the “gold watch and goodbye phase of my career.”...
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Notes from an 'early sender'

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"You sent them when?" It is the common attack query that mothers like me face on a regular basis...
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How a mother turned her grief at her daughter's murder into a cyber safety crusade

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Since the murder of her daughter Carly at 14, Sonya Ryan has tirelessly worked to increase awareness of internet safety. Her efforts have paid off with legislative change but there's more to be done.

At 14, life was looking bright for Carly Ryan. The pretty brunette Adelaide teenager was in love – with a handsome young Melbourne musician called Brandon Kane, 18. They had met online, and clicked immediately. Over months of virtual chats, their relationship grew...
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Machu Picchu just one of Peru's many highlights for travellers

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"IT would have to be one of the most dramatic descents in the world. As our plane approaches Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport in Cusco, Peru,...
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Serena Williams' demented detractors

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In September last year, Nike nominated Serena Williams as the best athlete in the world – of all time...
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Idle on Langkawi

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After frenetic Kuala Lumpur, this island’s fine white sand, turquoise sea and tropical jungle are a welcoming world away.

Lying north of the Strait of Malacca in the southern Andaman Sea near the border between Malaysia and Thailand, the island of Langkawi, the so-called “Jewel of Kedah”, was once home to fishermen and farmers and a haven for pirates with nary a luxury resort in sight.
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Changing of the geisha guard

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A tiny bar serving potent green tea cocktails in the backstreets of Kanazawa seems the oddest setting for my first encounter with a geisha...
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Age of empire

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The newly formed Rockpool Dining Group is a game-changer in Australian restaurants. But how does it work? Who’s running it? And why? Sharon Verghis gets the inside word.

Australia is the hardest place inthe world to run a restaurant: Tom Pash...
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The Defiant One

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The staffer at the Chelsea skating rink in Manhattan said it'd be a cinch to spot Tim Robbins on the ice ...
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Beauty can be beastly

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Her looks smoulder, her fans love her but can Penelope Cruz beguile Hollywood, asks Sharon Verghis.

IN the middle of his press conference at Central Park South's elegant Essex House hotel in New York, Pedro Almodovar causes a buzz when he airily proffers one theory as to why his leading lady, Penelope Cruz, has struggled so mightily to establish herself as a respected actor in Hollywood. ...
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Woman In Black

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If you could measure the breadth of a life by the number of artefacts accumulated over time, Rosanne Cash has lived a very big life indeed. ...
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“I can’t believe they’re twins!": Raising biracial babies

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“Why don’t you look like your mum and dad?” my twins are often asked.

When our son was born, he looked like a tiny, blonde peanut. He had light skin and grey eyes. His twin, our daughter, was bigger, browner, with thick dark hair...
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Ms Dionne and the boyz

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After 40 years of entertaining, you might expect this songstress to slow down, but her latest collaboration is set to send her star into the next orbit, writes Sharon Verghis.

This is a diva story in a class of its own. Dionne Warwick - queen of the easy-listening format, seller of 20 million albums, gold-plated matriarch of pop - goes on the warpath, armed with a very big stick. ...
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Lang Lang is China’s first crossover classical superstar pianist

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Lang Lang’s energy is a formidable thing. Classical music’s $US20 million man is speaking to Review just before midnight, fresh from a three-hour concert recital in Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, but despite the late hour and marathon performance, he is all spark and snap. ...
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Not easy being Green

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Beneath the gorgeous Bond girl glamour lies thoughtful starlet Eva Green.

Waiting to meet the new Bond girl, Eva Green, I am busy imagining what she'd be like in real life - spectacular cleavage, smouldering siren pout? - when the woman herself walks into the room. You couldn't imagine someone less like the 007 vixen: . ...
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The sahib of cinema: Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan

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IT'S almost midnight in sticky, monsoonal Mumbai and the car containing arguably the world's most famous actor is racing a fat yellow moon reflected in the serene Arabian Sea. ...
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Bollywood star Aamir Khan on cinema, stardom and social justice

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AAMIR Khan — Bollywood superstar, social activist, father of three and member of Time magazine’s 100 most influential list — slips into the room, past two bodyguards and a small public relations army, with the air of an interloper. “Who me?” his cocked eyebrow seems to ask a roomful of international journalists at the Taj Land’s End Hotel in Bandra, Mumbai. ...
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Two for the Road

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Kasey Chambers' house is at the end of a serpentine road that climbs up from the isolated surfside hamlet of Copacabana on the New South Wales central coast...
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Miriam Margolyes: the ultimate character actress for Dickens

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MIRIAM Margolyes limps down bustling Quay Street in Sydney's Haymarket district, trundling a little suitcase on wheels. ...
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Neil Armfield: director’s busy schedule spans stage and screen

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NEIL Armfield is waiting to place his lunch order — lentil salad, hold the chicken — and patting Grace, his plump cream labrador, when a burly security guard steps up. “Is that your dog, sir?” the guard asks. Armfield nods. The guard frowns: “Can you take it away, please? No dogs allowed on the grounds, sir.” ...
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Pharrell Williams creates score for Jonah Bokaer’s dance work in Brisbane

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Jonah Bokaer, the so-called mystery man of American dance, has packed a lot into a short life. At 18, the New York-based artist was the youngest dancer to join Merce Cunningham’s company; in his early 20s, he launched a stellar choreographic career with multimedia dance works that straddled the worlds of architecture, sculpture, theatre, digital animation, biomechanics, performance art, video and visual arts. ...
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Soak it all up

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Take a dip in some of the world’s top mineral springs.

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The Real Deal

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Grit over glitter, that's the authentic Naples

Be careful. It's something we hear again and again when we talk about our planned stopover in Naples en route to a weeek on the Amalfi Coast....
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Me Tarzan, you lady who make me swing

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Meryl Tankard speaks to Sharon Verghis on the eve of the choreographer's Broadway debut.

TALK about not seeing the wood for the trees. Meryl Tankard has been chatting about her latest project, Disney's new musical staging of Tarzan, for several minutes before she notices the huge, newly minted marquee banner unfurled down the side of a building across the road from where we sit in a room perched above Broadway. ...
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Boris Eifman: the modern maverick of ballet

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ON a freezing Monday night in St Petersburg the venerable Alexandrinsky Theatre, a stone's throw from the city's glittering Nevsky Prospect thoroughfare, is ablaze with light and crammed with a jostling opening-night crowd. ...
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NY salutes Cate

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THE standing ovation began slowly, then gathered pace. Row by row, patrons took to their feet last night in the weathered bowl of New York's 850-seat Harvey Theatre to salute Cate Blanchett and the Sydney Theatre Company. ...
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Original Skin

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Nudity in dance is staging a comeback

Izzac Carroll, 18, prowls around Henry Moore’s reclining Henry Moore’s Fallen Warrior before nimbly springing up on a bench. ...
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Bette and all that brass

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There are a lot of noisy people crammed into Bette Midler's tiny frame: Jewish American princess and impassioned political liberal, Grammy award-winning diva and urban renewal activist. Throw in a "quite shy" bookworm. ...
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STC’s Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh and co scale Chekhov’s heights

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"In 1984, veteran Chekhov thespian Ian McKellen observed “actors climb up ­Chekhov like a mountain, roped together, sharing the glory if they ever make it to the summit”. ...
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Jacqueline Mckenzie puts her feline heart into Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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IN the winter of 1994, a small group of actors gathered at a cold, draughty church in Darlinghurst, in inner-city Sydney.
They were there to rehearse Hamlet under the direction of Neil Armfield. The troupe included some of the biggest names of the contemporary Australian stage: Geoffrey Rush, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh and Gillian Jones - "perhaps one of Australia's greatest actresses," recounts Jacqueline McKenzie...
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Alexei Ratmansky takes steps in time with Cinderella for the Australian Ballet

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ALEXEI Ratmansky sits on a little stool, swaying slightly to a phantom tune only he can hear. His eyes are closed and he sits in a pose of intense concentration. Thirty or so dancers, a ballet mistress and a company pianist wait patiently around him in a sunny rehearsal room at the Australian Ballet's Melbourne headquarters. ...
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Here I am: the triumph of survival

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On a sunny morning in Prague’s Old Jewish Quarter, Juliet Rieden stumbles across a cluster of names on a wall. All share her own unusual surname.
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Jeff Koons

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Jeff Koons - eminent provocateur, seminal 1980s pop-art personality and mastermind behind all manner of giant puppies...
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Angel and beast

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AS her famous book Tracks is filmed in the Australian desert, Robyn Davidson reveals her many faces. ..
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The one they call the female Rushdie

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If Nawal El Saadawi didn't write, she says, she might wield an axe instead. Sharon Verghis reports.

Nawal El Sadaawi is a woman of forthright views. In the hierarchy of world religions, Judaism is more oppressive to women than Islam, she declares. George W. Bush is "a right-wing fanatic" , Osama bin Laden's milder doppelganger. If blood spills in the global battle against international capitalism, so be it...